Monday, October 7, 2013

Life By Design: Thinking and Marriage

Last year, my life verse was Philippians 4:6

God's word proved to be powerful and comforting at the same time during this season of life.  As I digest the word, I find so much goodness and just a couple of lines down, you can find this other life-giving gem:  

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

This verse has so much goodness in it and I'm sure to unpack it and learn more, as God's Word is living and active.  But this weekend, I utilized it as a tool in our marriage.  

We all get married for different reasons, but most of us choose a partner because we are attracted to something about them.  In our day-to-day lives, we get bogged down by responsibilities and our differences and faults can rise quickly to the surface causing discord and unhappiness. We can look at our spouses as failures and after time, it may seem more attractive to just start over.  Also, we can sometimes see ourselves as failures when we don't feel loved or respected by our spouses.  I admit that I rarely stop and thinking about "whatever is admirable..." or what is "excellent or praiseworthy" in my spouse.  

When I first memorized this verse, I honed in on the "whatever is true" part.  This weekend, after a disagreement with my husband, this verse kept coming up and the part that commands us to think on whatever is admirable, excellent and praiseworthy stood out.  While I knew I was tired, I just became very frustrated with yet another missed expectation.  I had been dwelling on what didn't happen this weekend during an adventurous overnight date that I planned and I became frustrated. Memories of fun and intellectually stimulating conversations in college left me feeling unengaged and unhappy with my current life filled with monotonous routines, conversations centered around feedings, diapers, bedtimes and homework, and the lack of enthusiasm from my husband concerning spontaneous adventures (he was tired too).   I started stewing.  Again, the verse popped in my head.  But then, I was so blinded by my own frustration, I couldn't bring myself to think about anything excellent--only stuff that bothered me.

When my husband returned from the store, I was ready to continue some of the negative communication so that he could see that he needed to be better at _____________ (fill in the blank, I had a list).  But again, I thought about the verse and I asked him what he thought he excelled at.  He stopped in his tracks.  "What do you mean?" he asked.  

"What are you really good at?"

After a few seconds of thought, he named off a few things--then included some things where he could improve.  I interrupted and asked him to only name the excellent things.  He continued, and then I joined in and added just as many.  Within minutes, there was a long wonderful list of how he was awesome.  It's kinda hard to stay mad at somebody awesome.  

Why is it so hard for us to think of our Rockstar spouses when they disappoint us (usually over something trivial)?  For me, it is because I don't make it a habit of thinking about what is excellent.   Also, we sometimes are hard on ourselves due to our own failures and we dwell on these.  These can put us in a funk.  When we both thought about & discussed what was excellent about my husband, it helped him to think about the unique gifts and talents that God has entrusted him with.  He also followed by making me go through the same exercise.  It was lovely.  

Instead of continuing in negative patterns, we effectively trained our brains to think differently.  I am so glad that God uses His Word to remind us about ways we can help ourselves and help others, just by simply thinking. 

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